By Don Ruhl
Paul did not start churches and then abandon them. He did all he could for them until he had to move on to start more churches. However, he either trained men from the congregation to work as preachers or he left someone such as Timothy or Titus.
The Letters to Preachers
Where people exist, problems exist, even in the church. One of the purposes of preachers is to deal with these things. In both Ephesus (where Timothy preached), and Crete (where Titus preached), troublemakers existed and the preachers had to confront them (1Ti 1.3, 4; Tts 1.5, 9–11).
However, the preachers would not only confront problem-people, but there were many other things they had to teach and put in order. Paul also explained that Christians must be involved in good works (1Ti 6.17–19; Tts 3.14).
In Second Timothy, rather than having Timothy stay where he was, Paul wanted the young preacher to join him (2Ti 4.9). Paul was at the end of his life and he needed Timothy (2Ti 4.6–8).
Interestingly, while we know the two passages very well in these books that speak of elders, we know very little of the manner and work of preachers that are outlined in these three letters. Paul said much more about preachers than he did about elders.
The Letter to Philemon does not read like Paul’s other letters. He does not set out new doctrine. He does not speak authoritatively. The letter is short, but full of compassion and mercy, and persuasion from an old man.
Read the whole letter in one sitting, picturing yourself as Philemon, and see how Paul’s letter affects you and what you would do in response.
The letter shows how Christians should speak to one another and how slavery is eliminated wherever people practice the fullness of Christianity.